The best family cycle trails in Bucks & Oxon
It’s finally spring and temperatures may just peak double figures this weekend (yippee!). Break out the sunnies! The family bike trip is ON.
A perennial Muddy favourite (and not just because of its new rustic cafe), Wendover’s Juniper Cycle Trail promises 6 miles (9.6km) of well-surfaced trails with climbs and descents – some are steep enough to make small children struggle though so be prepared to dismount for some tiny stretches. And once finished, don’t forget to make the most of the cafe’s outdoor tables with views over the treetops.
Marlow Suspension Bridge Loop
This is an easy, peasy 10.7 mile circular that takes in Little Marlow, Bourne End, Cookham Bridge, Cookham Dean and then Marlow Suspension Bridge to finish back in town. It’s largely paved and there’s plenty of scenic places, not least the River Thames – to stop for a sandwich.
Grand Union Canal – Bletchley to Leighton Buzzard
The good thing about canals is that they were designed to be as flat as possible so you’re safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to be hit with a 12% gradient on this towpath. In fact, this 8.9 mile (14.3km) trail is positively idyllic (if you get the weather right) but you will need to be vigilant for both pedestrians and the immediate perils of deep water.
Windsor Bridge Loop from Taplow
Take in the sights of Jubilee Weir and Windsor (including Eton) on this joyous 11.5 mile (18.5km) route that includes over five miles of bonafide cycleways. There’s plenty of spots for refreshment in Windsor – Muddy rates The Flaming Cow for burgers among other riverside eateries – and it’s very flat so whining will be minimal.
The Phoenix Trail – Princes Risborough to Thame
Flat and safe! Not only is there zero traffic (it largely follows the path of a disused railway line), this 7.5 mile (11km) path is dotted with 30 wooden sculptures that nod towards the railway’s history and the Chiltern countryside. There may be some mums walking with pushchairs and some doddery old dudes but equally a child with stabilisers won’t be frowned upon either. If you’re keen you can keep going and end up in Princes Risborough (having gone past JK from Jamiroquai’s house – you’ll know it by the classic car collection) for a crêpe and coffee at La Crepe Escape.
Thames Path – Goring to Tilehurst
It’s a little known fact that although most of the Thames Path is forbidden to cycle down, the stretch from Goring to Pangbourne is public bridleway so bicycles are allowed. You can then take your brood on some glorious country back lanes to Tilehurst Station (via Mapledurham) – it’s around 9 miles (14.4km) all in all – where a train will zip you and your bikes back to Goring in eight minutes. At Goring there’s goodies galore to reward the effort at Pierreponts, which is currently offering its divine home cooked quiches, salads, sarnies and cakes to takeaway.
Stonor to Christmas Common
Passing through Queen’s Wood and The Bridleway, this lovely traffic-free 3.3 mile (5.3k) route passes over various terrains. If you’d like to make it circular, you can return via Balham’s Lane and add another four miles. All very doable although a mountain bike, rather than road bike, is probably a better bet. Don’t forget to stop off at Stonor Park for a well-deserved coffee and cake.
Fancy a gentle cycle through the Oxfordshire Cotswolds? Of course you do. The Sarsden route offers up a pleasant 6.5 mile (10.4km) circular trail that passes through Churchill and Kingham – and while Churchill’s excellent The Chequers is temporarily closed, The Wild Rabbit in Kingham is serving takeaway pizzas. What more could you ask for?